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As temps rise, KSP warns parents not to leave children in hot cars

Three Kentucky children died in 2018 after being left in a hot car, with a 21% increase in child deaths nationwide.
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Baby in rear facing car seat has the safety belt on

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Due to rising mercury levels this week, Kentucky State Police (KSP) are issuing a plea for parents to think twice before leaving their children in a hot car this summer. 

In 2018, 52 children died after being left in a hot car for too long, according to Kids and Cars. In comparison to 2017, there has been a 21% increase in these deaths and Kentucky has accounted for three of these so far. Since 1998 the Bluegrass state has experienced 25 child-related vehicular heatstroke deaths. 

KSP spokesman Sgt. Josh Lawson said vehicular heatstroke creates an often-misunderstood ideology by the general public.

“The most dangerous mistake a parent can make is to think leaving a child alone in their car could never happen to them," Lawson said. "In these fast-paced times, it is easy for parents to get distracted and forget their child is in the car with them.”

Lawson said a child's body heats up three to five times faster than an adult's, meaning an infant could die of hyperthermia in just 15 minutes on a 75-degree day.

Nineteen years ago, the Commonwealth passed “Bryan’s Law.” This law makes a person liable for second-degree manslaughter or first-degree wanton endangerment for leaving a child eight years of age or younger in a motor vehicle, while circumstances create a higher risk of death.

“While a person will face criminal charges for leaving a child in a car, the pain and guilt from making such a devastating mistake will last far longer," Lawson said.

The law was named after Bryan Puckett an 11-month-old, who died on July 13th, 1999 as a result of being left in a hot car by his babysitter. 

The Kentucky State Police Department has offered the following safety tips: 

  • Never leave a child in an unattended car, even with the windows down.
  • Make it a habit of opening the rear door of the car every time you park to ensure no one is left inside.
  • To enforce this habit, place an item that you can’t start your day without such as a purse, briefcase, employee badge, phone, etc.
  • When at home, keep your vehicle locked at all times, even in the garage.
  • Never leave keys within reach of children.

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